AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman driving in north Austin says she called 911 to report that a man had exposed himself to a young woman, then followed after her when she ran away from him. The caller says she was told by dispatch that an officer would be sent right away.
But, no one ever responded in person.
“I looked at her face. It was just like she was scared to death,” explained Ginger Bernard, who called 911 and said they should send an officer as soon as possible. “She said, ‘I just want to go home. Please just let me go home.’ I told her it’d be helpful to talk to the police because these guys can escalate their actions. They might start off with exposure, but he might hurt somebody physically next time.”
Bernard says she was driving on Gracy Farms Lane near Stonehollow Drive on Sunday when she saw the young girl running and looking behind her. She says she pulled over and asked the girl if she was OK, and she said, “No.”
That’s when Bernard called police and waited at the scene for about 45 minutes. She says Austin police never showed up, so the victim left and she did too.
“Now this girl probably thinks the police — they don’t care about somebody like me, you know, she’s not important to the community in her mind. They didn’t come for her and she knows they didn’t come for her,” said Bernard. “These young girls have to feel empowered that they can stand up and say something about it, and it’s not their fault. She was doing nothing but walking her dog.”
Bernard says it wasn’t until 50 minutes after she made the 911 call that she received a call back, asking Bernard if she still wanted an officer to come to the scene.
“Fifty minutes is not acceptable at all, and now they’ve lost a witness because she doesn’t want to talk to anybody and Lord knows what it’s going to do to that poor girl,” Bernard added. “She was powerless and the guy was still in the area. They could have — I don’t know if they could have caught him, but they could have made the effort. I don’t know what they were doing that particular day at that particular time, but I just know that they didn’t help this girl.”
The woman tells KXAN she believes officers weren’t quick enough to respond, especially given the recent sexual assaults that have taken place on trails in downtown Austin. The woman is concerned the suspect may progress to larger, more violent acts if not stopped.
“This is not just downtown. It’s here. It’s everywhere, and if we can catch these guys early, get them off the streets, that’s just some women that are not going to be traumatized in their life,” Bernard said.
The Austin Police Department says it received a report of a suspicious vehicle. Police say no one was available at the time of the call to respond immediately but says they called the 911 caller back.
In light of the recent trail attacks, another free self defense class is scheduled for Sunday, October 15 at 9 a.m., as part of Take Back the Trail efforts. The event will take place at Ricky Guerro Park and is for all abilities and fitness levels. The class will last about an hour.